Krejcikova and Mektic claim mixed doubles title

  • David Cox

Fifth seeds Barbora Krejcikova and Nikola Mektic produced a stunning comeback to win the Australian Open mixed doubles title in their first tournament as a pair, defeating Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Jamie Murray 5-7 6-4 [10-1] on Saturday night.

The victory makes Krejcikova the first player to win consecutive mixed doubles titles in Melbourne Park since compatriot Jana Novotna in 1989, a neat piece of symmetry since Novotna – who tragically died of cancer in 2017 – had coached and then mentored her for many years.  

“Really? Wow, I had no idea,” said an emotional Krejcikova of the link to her fellow Czech. 

“It’s still very hard for me to talk about it, because she was really close to me. She was kind of my mentor and my hero. Every time I play, I always try to think what she would think. I just love to think of her any time I can. I'm still very sad about what happened.”

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Mattek-Sands and Murray won the first set, but the tide soon turned

Novotna would undoubtedly be proud of her protégé’s achievements over the past couple of years. Krejcikova is playing the best tennis of her life, reaching world No.1 in the doubles rankings in 2018 after winning the French Open and Wimbledon titles, and claiming the Australian Open mixed title in 2019 alongside Rajeev Ram.

“I thanked Rajeev the other day for not playing with her (this year) and giving me the opportunity,” joked Mektic, the Croatian only joining forces with Krejcikova during the off season after Ram opted not to compete in the mixed event in Melbourne.

It was Krejcikova who produced some inspirational tennis to swing the match back towards herself and Mektic midway through the second set. Murray and Mattek-Sands seemed to be firmly in control after reeling off four straight games to take the first set 7-5.

While the British player faded as the match went on, Krejcikova raised her level when it counted. Her strong returns helped break Murray and Mattek-Sands twice on the way to clinching the second set, and she was impeccable during the deciding match tiebreak, flicking one particularly delightful topspin lob over Murray’s head to clinch an early mini break.

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Krejcikova and Mektic dominated the tiebreak to take the title

The title completes a remarkable tournament for Krejcikova, who has played an astounding 15 matches in Melbourne over the past three weeks. The Czech won three rounds in qualifying for the women’s singles before going on to reach the second round, then made the semifinals of the women’s doubles, and now the mixed title.

“This is for sure some kind of a record,” laughed Mektic. “I don't think anyone played 15 matches on one tournament ever. I told her many times that I'm really, really happy and really amazed how she could do it. 

“There were matches where she was really tired, her leg was not perfect. But somehow she came out and we did it.”